If I let myself (which I do), I can get really cranky this time of year. Because I live with a burden to use my gifts to glorify God, Christmas can feel to me like nothing more than an interruption to my egotistical endeavors to do something meaningful with my time. The holidays heighten my anxiety because they simultaneously peak my itch to produce something meaningful, yet slow my momentum toward accomplishing anything of real lasting value. I can't even remember what I got for Christmas last year, let alone what I gave anyone.
Like I said, I can get cranky; in fact downright Grinchy about Christmas. Like CindyLou Who, I find myself pondering "but whats it all mean?"
In an act of self-preservation this year, rather than getting all kerbobbled, I tried to exercise intentional gratitude as the blasted day approached. Tried to find and mention one thing I was grateful for each day -- even in the midst of the clutter and chaos of Christmas madness. It helped. I got through it, and actually found myself enjoying the day.
Still, I'm itching to get the tree out. The lights down. The nativity scene packed away. The wreath needles vacuumed off the hearth.
But I'm also in need of some quiet and respite from all the fuss. So, rather than dragging out the ornament boxes and storage tubs this morning, I retreated to my study and sat in my comfy chair to take in a little bible reading with my coffee and enjoy a piece of blue sky hovering out my front window -- the first we've seen in awhile.
I smiled, thinking how blessed I am to have such a peaceful view in spite of the urban setting within which we live. The clematis vines gracing the side of the house show promise of a generous spring bloom. The rocky creek my husband spent the summer creating (in response to my comment that I'd like to have a water feature outside my office window) provides a silvery sight of movement on the otherwise still, brown palette of our forest floor front yard. The remnant of a spider's intricate silk orb which strung all fall between two trees reminds me how fragile home can be for some. And the lovely new curtains framing my view make me feel all toasty inside.
From just from one spot I can list numerous things for which to be grateful. I'm feeling pleased that maybe my gratitude exercise might outlast the season.
Then God goes and tops it all off. Today's entry in my devotional highlights a verse from Solomon and reminds me that sometimes the gardens God plants are intended solely for His enjoyment. Sometimes the patch of soil on which we are asked to reside isn't intended for harvest -- sometimes it's strictly for sowing beauty. Strictly for growing flowers which really have no purpose other than providing something lovely to look at.
What does this have to do with gratitude? Well... even amidst the pain and toil and frustrations which can cause me to recoil from joy, even in light of big picture suffering and sorrow of life; I am reminded that God wants us to notice the pieces of Himself he weaved in between the foundations of the earth. He wants us to delight with Him in the power and the process of Creation; He invites us to participate with him in the privilege of bestowing beauty on his earth -- and in our earthly surroundings.
Rocks, creeks, spider webs -- all of creation shouts for recognition. Draws us into understanding something of our Creator. But it's only when we stop long enough to look that we can really see both views - the inward and outward. The connection between Creator and the art of creating.
Sometimes I wonder if writing is a vain attempt to create something that will outlast my endless efforts to keep my house in order. Honestly, I often wonder how purposeful it is to perpetually pick up and put things away. Wash and fold. Clean and declutter. Sweep and Scrub. I wish I was someone who could sit down in the middle of a mess and play with my son. Work on my novel. Get lost in a book. But I'm not. I have a hard time relaxing when domestic duties call.
But maybe instead of grumbling about picking up my husband's socks for the umpteenth time, scrubbing pee from the bathroom floor or unloading the dishwasher -- none of which I'd rather be doing than reading or writing -- I need to remember that maintaining my home is part of the creation process, too. And that someday all the fun that goes into making and enjoying a home won't be accompanied by the drudgerous responsibilities that go along with maintaining it.
Someday -- like that moment on Christmas Eve when all is done and the lights are twinkling and the fire is warm and the house is clean and table is ready for a feast on the morrow -- Peace will prevail. Our hearts will finally be full. Creation will have sighed it's final turn of season. And we'll be back in the garden with Christ himself, thankful that Christmas came after all.
Maybe, CindyLou, that's what Christmas is all about.